9 Sep 2018

Over 1,100 apartment sales from 264 developments were completed in Q2 2018, according to Urbis’ Apartment Essentials: Australia’s most comprehensive national survey. The study tracks more than 140,000 new and off the plan apartments across Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth and the Gold Coast.

Every quarter, the Urbis Apartment Essentials continues to grow and Q2 2018 was no exception, with Urbis monitoring actively selling product across 956 developments. Urbis surveyed close to one third of the total new apartment market, the robust sample size indicative of the present market conditions. Apartment launches mirrored Q1’s performance with 38 projects launching nationally, bringing 5,000 new apartments to the market, contributing to a total of 10,600 new products on the market in 2018.

We’re seeing a more conservative market in 2018 in comparison to 2017, with sales down by 40% and fewer launches, which were down by 26%. But this shouldn’t take anyone by surprise given slowing sales activity in the broader residential market, however the market is responding with new apartment approvals falling consistently for the past four quarters.

As has been the case for the past year, two-bedroom, two-bathroom apartments once again take centre stage as the most popular selling product, accounting for 50% of total sales. If we glance back to the June quarter in 2017, this product type only accounted for 39% of sales, while one-bedroom apartments with and without a car space were a close second with 36%. Today, we can see that the preference for larger apartments is accelerating, with 66% of future supply intended for 2 and 3-bedroom products, aimed at the owner occupier market.

Urbis National Director Clinton Ostwald said, “We have seen a preference for owner occupier sales across all markets monitored by Urbis’ Apartment Essentials monitors. This could be driving the increase in larger apartment product.

“Moreover, with continued pressure on foreign investors sourcing finance, developers are starting to move away from investor stock, and are tapping into the local market, with first home buyers emerging from the woodwork.”

Sales have been decreasing at a steady rate of approximately 10% per quarter in 2018, treading at 1,100 in the June quarter. However, The Gold Coast and Melbourne have not resonated with the national trend, recording steady sales into Q2. The average sales price in these cities has also increased for new apartments, showing a positive upward curve. Perth was the only city which registered a downturn in the average sales price, recording $625,000 in Q2, down from $681,000 in Q1.

Mr Ostwald said, “The overall residential market is softening, with a slowing in auction clearance rates for established stock. The market for new apartments is matching this trend in most cities with a slow down in sales rates. 

“However, with continued strong population growth and the likelihood of a steep slowdown in new supply over the next 18 to 24 months, we should start to see sale numbers and price growth start to tick up.”

Owner occupiers accounted for the majority of buyers across all states except Sydney where local NSW investors nabbed 44% of sales. Interstate investors continue to buy into the Gold Coast while foreign investors look to both Sydney (22% of sales) and Brisbane (33% of sales) for new apartments.

Looking at the national picture, 35 projects yielding 4,650 apartments are expected to launch next quarter with a further 9,750 queued for later release. With large scale, high profile developments such as One Circular Quay in Sydney, Brisbane’s Sierra Nuovo and Sky Garden in Melbourne, we may be seeing a new peak in the average sale price as premium apartments hit the market.

The Gold Coast apartment market continued to perform with close to 1,500 apartments launching in the quarter, accounting for 28% of the launches during the survey period. Melbourne was the overall frontrunner with 1,929 new apartments released to the market across 16 developments, securing 38% of newly launched products in the quarter nationally. The other cities experienced fewer product launches with modest apartment releases in Brisbane and Perth while Sydney came in close third with 1,153 apartments launched in the quarter.

Within the Urbis survey, Melbourne, Perth and the Gold Coast were the ones to watch for apartment sales, with Perth recording close to 350 sales, Melbourne, 309 and the Gold Coast, 276. The Gold Coast recorded the highest number of surveyed sales despite being the smallest market with only 7,333 units in the future pipeline.

With continued pressure on foreign investors sourcing finance, developers are starting to move away from investor stock, and are tapping into the local market, with first home buyers emerging from the woodwork.

Clinton Ostwald View Profile

Local investor activity dropped in all cities with Sydney recording the largest difference as owner occupiers took out 59% of sales. Brisbane’s strong owner occupier purchases secured the increase price points in the quarter while Perth’s buyers’ market is running on limited time, meaning that we will likely see a drop off in sales soon. Overseas interest increased slightly across all markets and with high profile developments on the horizon, we expect interest from international investors to pick up.

The desire by owner occupiers to inspect new apartments before buying has resulted in a large number of sales in recently built product, accounting for 21% of sales while presale products remained the most popular with 48% of sales nationally. Brisbane and Perth saw a fair breakdown between sales from built and presale stage developments while Melbourne buyers favoured presale stage developments (36%) over built product (14%).  With banks starting to require presales of up to 120% of development costs, there is an increased probability of fewer of the recent product launches moving to construction in the short to medium term.

Apartment approvals in Q2 are holding tight with 6,251 apartments queued for development, following on from Q1’s 6,747. Looking back one year earlier and we were seeing a spike in approvals with 20,583 over that one quarter. Melbourne has the largest pipeline with over 52,000 apartments approved, followed by Brisbane with 27,000 and Sydney with 15,000.

Mr Ostwald commented, “Whilst these apartments have passed through councils with approval, the slower market and tightening in development lending by banks, will lead to deferred deliveries with as many as 27,000 apartments not expected to settle until after 2020.”

1,106 sales were recorded in the June 2018 quarter across 28% of the national market:

  • Sydney (44 sales, 13% of market surveyed, market size 50,247 units)
  • Melbourne (309 sales, 18% of market surveyed, market size 57,749 units)
  • Brisbane (130 sales, 42% of market surveyed, market size 16,897 units)
  • Perth (347 sales, 86% of market surveyed, market size 11,219 units)
  • Gold Coast (276 sales, 70% of market surveyed, market size 7,330 units)

Weighted average sale price recorded at $713,104.

  • Sydney – $1,146,591
  • Melbourne – $678,572
  • Brisbane – $766,929
  • Perth – $625,072
  • Gold Coast – $768,569

The most popular product type was two-bedroom, two-bathroom product at 50% of total sales. Across the cities the highest selling product types were:

  • Sydney – Two-bedroom, two-bathroom apartments – 45%.
  • Melbourne – Two-bedroom, two-bathroom apartments – 43%.
  • Brisbane – Two-bedroom, two-bathroom 47%
  • Perth – Two-bedroom, two-bathroom – 45%
  • Gold Coast – Two-bedroom, two-bathroom – 67%

27% of actively selling apartments are in presales, 51% are under construction and 22% are recently built.

New project launches in the quarter:

  • Sydney – 5 projects, 1,153 apartments
  • Melbourne – 16 projects, 1,929 apartments
  • Brisbane – 2 projects, 276 apartments
  • Perth – 4 projects, 259 apartments
  • Gold Coast – 11 projects, 1,429 apartments

Want an overview of what occurred in the national new apartment market for Q2 2018? Look no further. In this video, National Director of Property Economics Clinton Ostwald provides an outline for New South Wales, Victorian, Queensland and Western Australian markets.  

Our team of experts have the answers. Contact our Property Economics and Research team to find out more. 

Clinton Ostwald View Profile
Mark Dawson View Profile
Paul Riga View Profile
David Cresp View Profile
Alex Stuart View Profile